Cannes Lions Reset. Is It Enough?

The mumbling and grumbling about the high cost, complexity and growing pay-for-play elements of the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity have been circulating through Adland for years.

No question the holding companies in particular were getting fed up, particularly WPP and Publicis Group, with the high cost of participation.

It’s funny how the most prestigious awards in the industry got a bit derailed over money. But I guess it shouldn’t surprise me.

It’s sort of a cliché that creatives in the business crave awards, i.e. recognition for their work. And agencies have always been under the impression that awarding winning work attracts clients.

I don’t know that what Ascential has done has fixed what was wrong with the Lions process.

I think a better fix would be to take the profit motive out the awards altogether (for the organizing entity that is) and have the Lions or some equivalent judged and awarded by a non-profit entity. Like the Nobel or Pulitzer Prizes. The way I see it, take profits totally out of the picture and then you’re left with an award system that bestows prizes based totally on the merits of the work and not on which companies have the deepest pockets to submit single pieces of work numerous times in multiple categories. Filling the coffers of the organizer in the process.



It’s too bad that one of the early Adland Greats like David Ogilvy, or Leo Burnett or Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet didn’t set up an Alfred Nobel-type foundation to establish the industry’s premiere awards in perpetuity.

Maybe it’s not too late. I can think of a few enormously wealthy industry CEOs who could afford to fund such an endeavor. They could even make it a joint project. (It would be so much fun to be a fly on the wall hearing them hash out the details).

What do you think Ascential, would you be willing to sell the Lions to such a group, so the awards could be run based solely on the work being considered for recognition and not on your need to make a profit?  

Given the announced concessions, sounds like you’ll be making less profit going forward anyway. Why not get rid of the entire headache so the industry can have a premiere set of truly prestigious awards that represent more than just a boozy week in the South of France?



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